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?2                              THE GAY GENIUS

women would be shocked or would offend him by ill-concealed titters
But, says Su Shim, each of these separately would not have beer
enough of a personality to ruin an empire, had it not been for the
weak-minded emperors under whom they came into power. Now
however, a man had appeared who combined the ugliness and schem-
ing ability of a Lu Chi and the eloquence of a Wang Yen. "Here is a
man who discourses on Confucius and Laotse and lives the life of the
famous recluses, who associates himself with disgruntled persons and
establishes a group for mutual admiration which declares to the world:
*A sage has arrived!' His cunning and his dark scheming mind lead
him towards strange ways." Such a person could deceive the most dis-
cerning ruler and be a great danger to the state if he should ever come
into power. "It is natural for a man to want to wash his face when it
is dirty and to send his filthy garments to the laundry. Not so with
this man! He wears a barbarian's robe and eats the food of pigs and
dogs and discusses poetry and history with a convict's unshaved head
and unwashed face. Now is this natural? A man who does not act
according to common human nature must be a great hypocrite and a
scheming intriguer." Su Shim hoped that his prophecy was wrong,
that he could be like a good general who defeats an enemy before the
batde, But, he said: "If my prophecy goes wrong, people will think
that these words are exaggerated and the man himself will complain
of his fate. Nobody then will be aware of the calamity he could have
brought upon the nation. But if these words come true, the country
will be plunged into a dire calamity, and'I shall be honoured as a wise
prophet—a sad consolation indeed!"

Whether Wang's strange habits were an affectation or not it is im-
possible to decide; but when a person overdoes a thing, people are
inclined to suspect there is an element of conscious self-advertisement
in it. If we may believe Shao Powen, Emperor Jentsung had the same
suspicion. One day, at an imperial dinner given for the ministers, the
guests were to catch their own fish for dinner from a pond. Before
the dinner, fish-bait, in the form of litde pills, was laid out on gold
plates on the table. Wang was not interested in fishing and began to
eat the fish-bait from the table and finished the plate. The next day,
the Emperor said to the prime minister: "Wang Anshih is a fake. A
person may well eat one pill by mistake, but no one will in a state of
absent-mindedness finish them all." According to the story, that was
the reason why Jentsung never liked Wang. In Wang's private diaries,
he was also particularly hard against Jentsung.

In view of later developments, Su Shim was right. Somehow in all
countries, cranks and crackpots and schizophrenics have always be-
lieved that slovenliness is the mark of genius and that the best assur-
ance of immortality is the refusal to dress like a gentleman. There is